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At the Feet of The Mother

Savitri Study Class 17-12 “The Final Answer to the Question of Fate and Suffering and Evil and Pain “

Savitri Study Class with Alok Pandey. Book 6, Canto 2

Summary of Book 6

 

Book 6 or the Book of Fate deals with the problem of Fate, destiny and Determinism in earthly life. But since the problem Fate is intertwined with the very origin of our existence and the goal towards which we eventually move, Book 6, particularly the 2nd Canto, is a standalone Canto in its own right. For those who find Savitri difficult this Book, the Book of Fate may be a good starting point. The two Cantos of this book can be read without reference to other sections as well. For in the First Canto of this Book, Sri Aurobindo introduces us to the scene where the Word of Fate is released through the lips of Narad. Savitri has just returned back to her palace after choosing Satyavan as her bridegroom. Meanwhile the seer Narad is already there in the Royal Hall of King Aswapati and his queen. Taking this as a blessing, the queen request Narad to prophesy about her loved daughters future married life with the man she has thus chosen. While Narad appreciates the many good qualities of Satyavan he also hesitatingly reveals that the big problem is that Satyavan is destined to die after one year. The prophesy falls as a thunderbolt on the ears of the queen who is eager to see her daughter happy. She asks her daughter Savitri to go back and find some other suitor. But Savitri is adamant in her will and accepts the challenge of Fate thrown across her life.

Thus starts the beautiful revealing dialogue wherein Narad answers the King and the Queen about the many issues and questions that have always dogged the human mind with regard to Fate. Traditional spiritual philosophies blame either man’s karma or some dark evil Power for the ‘unfortunate’ twists and turns of Fate. While each has its own bit of truth it is far from being the complete truth. It leaves many an unanswered questions and raises fresh questions with the answers. These Questions are powerfully articulated by Sri Aurobindo through the queen who becomes a representative of a thinking humanity that neither can neither accept the traditional explanations nor do anything other than stand helpless against the stroke of Fate. In a moment of anguish, she questions everything, – the ways of Destiny, life’s goal, the road for man, the path of the gods, the philosophies, creation and eventually the Creator Himself. Never before in the history of spiritual philosophies have these eternal questions that vex humanity been raised so potently and cogently.

 

A part author of the cosmic tragedy,
His will conspires with death and time and fate.
His brief appearance on the enigmaed earth
Ever recurs but brings no high result
To this wanderer through the aeon-rings of God
That shut his life in their vast longevity.
His soul’s wide search and ever returning hopes
Pursue the useless orbit of their course
In a vain repetition of lost toils
Across a track of soon forgotten lives.
All is an episode in a meaningless tale.
Why is it all and wherefore are we here?
If to some being of eternal bliss
It is our spirit’s destiny to return
Or some still impersonal height of endless calm,
Since That we are and out of That we came,
Whence rose the strange and sterile interlude
Lasting in vain through interminable Time?
Who willed to form or feign a universe
In the cold and endless emptiness of Space?
Or if these beings must be and their brief lives,
What need had the soul of ignorance and tears?
Whence rose the call for sorrow and for pain?
Or all came helplessly without a cause?
What power forced the immortal spirit to birth?
The eternal witness once of eternity,
A deathless sojourner mid transient scenes,
He camps in life’s half-lit obscurity
Amid the debris of his thoughts and dreams.
Or who persuaded it to fall from bliss
And forfeit its immortal privilege?
Who laid on it the ceaseless will to live
A wanderer in this beautiful, sorrowful world,
And bear its load of joy and grief and love?
Or if no being watches the works of Time,
What hard impersonal Necessity
Compels the vain toil of brief living things?
A great Illusion then has built the stars.
But where then is the soul’s security,
Its poise in this circling of unreal suns?
Or else it is a wanderer from its home
Who strayed into a blind alley of Time and chance
And finds no issue from a meaningless world.
Or where begins and ends Illusion’s reign?
Perhaps the soul we feel is only a dream,
Eternal self a fiction sensed in trance.”
pp. 441-442

 

But Savitri is much more than a philosophy. It is a grand revelation of the cosmos and man and God and all else that man has ever experienced and is yet to experience. The Queens questioning mind opens the door for though she has approached Narad in an hour of anguish, yet has she the heart of a seeker. She has rightly extended her individual problem into a cosmic problem and seeks an answer. It is not just a question of her daughter now that besieges her but the very ways of Destiny that she questions. She rejects or rather shows the limitations of the traditional answers and seeks to know more, if more there is to know, an answer that can fully satisfy her soul. Who better than Narad can do so? Narad rises to the occasion and through his long speech, Sri Aurobindo reveals to our struggling humanity all the tangled knots of Fate and the way to unknot them.

At first his answer proceeds along several lines, each of which takes us deeper behind the appearances of life. Pain is not a curse as we ordinarily think it to be. Nor can it be eradicated by manipulating the surfaces of life. Pain has been tagged along with life by a deeper Wisdom than man’s self-centered thought can surmise. First and foremost it is a reminder of our limitation and our Ignorance. Pain therefore comes to nudge us out of our comfort zones. At yet another level, it is the chisel and hammer of the gods to shape Man and carve him into a diviner stature. It is the seal of imperfection that mars all earthly life. But behind Ignorance there stands the mother of Ignorance, that is, the Inconscient. As long as the Inconscient remains what it is, the riddle of pain will remain unsolved. It is the Inconscient that is the birth place of pain, – the pain of separation from its divine origin. Of course there is never any real separation but such becomes the perception or sense or the state there that it seems to be void of any Consciousness, void of any Love, void of Light, void of Truth, void of Bliss. It is the dark Infinite, the very shadow of God. Though all is there, it is hidden as it were, hidden form its own sight and must be discovered step by step, degree by degree, through birth and death and a slow, painful, evolution.

It is not easy to resolve this issue. The Avataras come for this work and are themselves caught in the wheel they had hoped to change. The Inconscient is the shadow of God and only by the descent of the highest Light and Truth and Love can it undergo the needed change. That is what Savitri has embodied for this work. All other previous descents were preparations for this one.

For man there are two possible approaches to collaborate with this divine action and participate in the Divine Work of abolishing the Inconscience and emerge out of his limitations imposed by the finite mind and its play in Time. The first approach is that of the gods, the path of surrender to the higher Power and Love, the path of aspiration for Love and Truth and Peace, the path of trust in the Divine and waiting for Him to release us from the bonds. The other path is that of the Titans, the path of the ego aggrandizing itself and thereby expanding its limits. This latter road is the dangerous route to supermanhood leading only to disaster and ruin.

Eventually however, there is a deeper Wisdom that is leading man through all this and all events of our life can become catalysts to propel us forward in the great Journey towards Divine Perfection. It is not some blind god or devious Chance or a harsh law of Karma but our soul’s choice and the Grace Above and within that move us across many lives and through a multitude of experiences towards the One great Goal.

But sometimes one soul is charged with the Destiny of the Race. Sometimes this Will and Wisdom, this Love and Grace that remains hidden in our depths emerges into the forefront, assumes a human body and takes upon itself the burden of humanity and leads the human march. That is the Avatara and this is Savitri. She is born to succor and to share and to save. She must bear man’s burden of sorrow and grief and find the lasting remedy. She is the Hope for Man, the golden bridge through which the rivers of God-Light and God-love can come pouring down to Earth and redeem matter and humanity.
Savitri, the embodied Divine Mother is the final answer. This creation is Her act of Love and She will surely transform it into God’s Image by the power of Her all-transfiguring Love.

 

Sometimes one life is charged with earth’s destiny,
It cries not for succour from the time-bound powers.
Alone she is equal to her mighty task.
Intervene not in a strife too great for thee,
A struggle too deep for mortal thought to sound,
Its question to this Nature’s rigid bounds
When the soul fronts nude of garbs the infinite,
Its too vast theme of a lonely mortal will
Pacing the silence of eternity.
As a star, uncompanioned, moves in heaven
Unastonished by the immensities of Space,
Travelling infinity by its own light,
The great are strongest when they stand alone.
A God-given might of being is their force,
A ray from self’s solitude of light the guide;
The soul that can live alone with itself meets God;
Its lonely universe is their rendezvous.
A day may come when she must stand unhelped
On a dangerous brink of the world’s doom and hers,
Carrying the world’s future on her lonely breast,
Carrying the human hope in a heart left sole
To conquer or fail on a last desperate verge,
Alone with death and close to extinction’s edge.
Her single greatness in that last dire scene
Must cross alone a perilous bridge in Time
And reach an apex of world-destiny
Where all is won or all is lost for man.
In that tremendous silence lone and lost
Of a deciding hour in the world’s fate,
In her soul’s climbing beyond mortal time
When she stands sole with Death or sole with God
Apart upon a silent desperate brink,
Alone with her self and death and destiny
As on some verge between Time and Timelessness
When being must end or life rebuild its base,
Alone she must conquer or alone must fall.
No human aid can reach her in that hour,
No armoured god stand shining at her side.
Cry not to heaven, for she alone can save.
For this the silent Force came missioned down;
In her the conscious Will took human shape:
She only can save herself and save the world.
O queen, stand back from that stupendous scene,
Come not between her and her hour of Fate.
Her hour must come and none can intervene:
Think not to turn her from her heaven-sent task,
Strive not to save her from her own high will.
Thou hast no place in that tremendous strife;
Thy love and longing are not arbiters there;
Leave the world’s fate and her to God’s sole guard.
Even if he seems to leave her to her lone strength,
Even though all falters and falls and sees an end
And the heart fails and only are death and night,
God-given her strength can battle against doom
Even on a brink where Death alone seems close
And no human strength can hinder or can help.
Think not to intercede with the hidden Will,
Intrude not twixt her spirit and its force
But leave her to her mighty self and Fate.”

He spoke and ceased and left the earthly scene.
Away from the strife and suffering on our globe,
He turned towards his far-off blissful home.
A brilliant arrow pointing straight to heaven,
The luminous body of the ethereal seer
Assailed the purple glory of the noon
And disappeared like a receding star
Vanishing into the light of the Unseen.
But still a cry was heard in the infinite,
And still to the listening soul on mortal earth
A high and far imperishable voice
Chanted the anthem of eternal love.
pp. 460-462

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